Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch
There are long-distance relationships and then there's what The Big Bang Theory's Howard and Bernadette have.
"When one person's in space, that's basically the longest-distance relationship you can possibly have!" Melissa Rauch tells TVGuide.com. "They're going to put earthly relationships to shame."
Days after tying the knot with Bernadette (Rauch) in the Season 5 finale, Howard (Simon Helberg) fulfilled his lifelong dream by blasting off into space on a NASA mission — and he's still out there when Season 6 premieres Thursday (8/7c, CBS). That's not exactly the most ideal way to start a marriage, but Rauch doesn't mind.
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"All newlyweds go through an adjustment period," she says. "It's just that the stakes are even higher for them when they're the furthest [apart] you could be. But if any show should keep someone in space, it's ours. I like these episodes. They're learning to be a married couple, except they're also dealing with outer space in the mix."
And if the great beyond isn't a big (no pun intended) enough obstacle, the newlyweds have their usual, overbearing thorn in their side: Howard's mom. Turns out, Howard never told his domineering mother that he and Bernadette are not going to be living with her before he jetted off, and Bernadette lets him have it via their Skype session in the premiere. "I don't exactly know how he thought he was going to get away with it, but I think he thought, 'I'll deal with it when I get back down to Earth,'" Rauch says. "She's very upset, but at the same time, when Bernadette married Howard, she definitely knew that she was marrying his mother too. That's a part of her that knows it's going to be very, very hard for him to move out and move on."
Of course, it's not like Mrs. Wolowitz (voiced by Carol Ann Susi) — who will start dating Howard's dentist, Dr. Schneider (Ken Lerner) later this season — would dare to let her only child go. As seen in the sneak peek below, she guilt-trips Howard (over the phone, naturally) into staying with her, which won't go over well with Bernadette.
"Obviously, this won't be resolved quickly!" Rauch says. "He can't handle two Mrs. Wolowitzes in his life right now. Once he returns to Earth in the fourth episode, they'll start to get it straightened out. The seed has been planted and Bernadette won't let him forget it."
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Outside of the housing issues, Rauch assures that Howard and Bernadette's out-of-this-world situation isn't putting strain on their relationship. "She misses him a lot in the best way. The first three episodes, you see them talking on Skype and her telling him that," Rauch says, adding that she and Helberg actually Skype from different rooms on set when they film those scenes. "What I always love about Bernadette and Howard is that the writers always do such a great job of showing the love between them and how they appreciate each other and their idiosyncrasies. She's definitely looking forward to him coming back, but I think she's super, super-proud of her astronaut husband."
Even if he's still a mama's boy as a married man?
"Well, maybe that will change now," Rauch says. "And she's going to have a boyfriend too. While little Wolowitz is away, Mama Wolowitz is gonna play! We know she had sex once, so why not again? She might want her privacy, so maybe they'll finally move out."
The Big Bang Theory premieres Thursday at 8/7 on CBS.